March 1998 News

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Farooq firm on Autonomy

31st March 1998

Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today expressed his willingness to go to any extent for restoration of maximum autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. He said that he was even ready to go to jail for that. A cool Farooq Abdullah today told the Legislative Assembly that the autonomy panel reports were yet to be completed and as soon as they are ready, they would be tabled in the House. He assured the members, who had quizzed him about the state of affairs of the two autonomy panels, during the question hour, that he would get the maximum autonomy restored to the State.

Dr Abdullah was provoked to make the extreme remarks of going to jail on the autonomy issue when one of the members in the House recalled that there could be a 1953 type fallout if the autonomy issue was taken too far. "I am ready to go to jail, if there are incidents like that of 1953," he said.

The Praja Parishad, a right wing organisation had spearheaded an agitation in that year against what they called dual controls in one country seeking abolition of the separate Constitution, head of the State and flag of Jammu and Kashmir under the premiership of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.

The intensity of the agitation in 1953 had paralysed the life in Jammu region forcing the Nehru Government to intervene leading to the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah.

He had stayed out of the national political stream for 22 years before he returned as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in February 1975 following an accord between him and Mrs Indira Gandhi.

The Chief Minister reiterated his Government's resolve to pursue its demand for greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir saying he does not want to proceed in haste on this issue and would like to take all sections along before taking a final decision.

"But we will get the autonomy," he added. Replying to questions on the subject, Dr Abdullah said the reports of both the State and Regional Autonomy Committees are likely to be presented in the Assembly during next session in August this year.

He said the delay in submission was due to various reasons, including resignation of the former Chairman of the Committee and unexpected political developments in the country in November 1997 followed by announcement of elections.

He said time consumed in collection of relevant documents and other materials, public response to the committee's notifications and fixing and holding of meetings with leaders of political parties and other eminent person' at Delhi also contributed to the delay.

The Chief Minister said the tenure of the Regional Autonomy Committee will extended up to May end to allow its members visit Poonch and Rajouri districts for interaction and collection of material.


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